The knee is the joint where the bones of the upper leg meet the bones of the lower leg. The knees are the largest body joints which provide stability and also help us walk, run, stand, turn, and crouch. Being active is very important for healthy joints, however sometimes they need rest and more care in order to work properly and maintain healthy. Unhealthy and week knees can significantly impede your everyday activities so it very important to take proper care of them.
Knee weakness is usually caused with age but it is not always the cause as sometimes people of any age face problems with them. Other causes of knee weakness can be sedentary lifestyle, knee strain or injury, excess sodium intake, alcohol consumption, smoking or a condition called osteoarthritis which is caused when the knee parts wear and tear.
There are natural ways to treat knee weakness and pain such as making changes in your lifestyle and diet. Here are some of them:
This mineral is essential for healthy bones and its deficiency causes thinning and weakening which lead to osteoporosis. Since our bodies are unable to naturally produce calcium it is very important to include more of it by taking supplements or with dietary sources.
Foods that are rich in calcium include: cheese, milk, almonds, dark leafy greens, calcium-fortified cereals, fortified orange juice, blackstrap molasses and sardines.
If you prefer taking supplements, choose the ones containing vitamin D because it helps the body to absorb more calcium. The proper dosage of this supplement can be prescribed by your doctor.
- Anti-inflammatory foods
Inflammation is another cause of knee pain and weakness so it is important to consume more foods that have anti-inflammatory properties such as spinach, ginger, turmeric, salmon, olive oil, tart cherries, avocados, walnuts, blueberries, sweet potatoes and flaxseeds. Foods that cause inflammation are soda, white rice, sugary foods, white flour products and foods high in saturated fats so you should avoid them as much as possible.
This aerobic exercise is great for improving the bone and muscle strength as well as reducing knee stiffness. It is advised to swim at least 30 minutes every day. The best swimming strokes for the knees are butterfly, backstroke and front crawl, and breaststroke should be avoided since it applies pressure on the knee joints.
The knee condition can be greatly improved by strengthening the muscles that surround them. Exercising also makes the knee bones stronger and aligns the joints.
The most beneficial exercises for knee health include: knee bends, straight-leg raises, single-leg squats, lunges, squats with a Swiss ball and hamstring stretches with thigh contraction. Perform these exercises for 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week and if you experience pain or stiffness in the knee, consult your doctor for an alternative treatment.
- Vitamin C
This vitamin is very important for the formation of collagen which is one of the main components of knee cartilage. It promotes proper bone development, collagen synthesis and improves the quality of the bone matrix. Taking vitamin C also reduces the risk of fractures by enhancing bone mass density.
You can include more vitamin C in your diet by eating lemons, spinach, berries, bell peppers, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, cauliflower, papaya, broccoli and oranges, or by taking it in the form of supplements.
- Epsom salt
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis are usually the cause of weak knees which is a result of magnesium deficiency. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium which reduces the issues related to the knees such as inflammation, and also promotes calcium absorption that is essential for proper muscle function.
To use Epsom salt on your knees, dissolve 2 tablespoons of it in ½ cup of water and then soak in a washcloth in the liquid. Apply the washcloth on your knees, leave it for 15-20 minutes and afterwards rinse with water. You should repeat this 2 times a week.
You can also use Epsom salt once or twice a week by adding a cup of it in warm bath and staying in it at least 20 minutes.
- Vitamin D
This vitamin is also essential for healthy bones and joints and its deficiency increases the risk of fractures and bone loss. Calcium absorption is also reduced if there is vitamin D deficiency. You can get more of this vitamin by spending time in the sun for at least 15 minutes every day since the body produces it when exposed to sunlight.
Other way to get more vitamin D is by consuming dairy products, egg yolks, fortified cereals, fish and cod liver oil. Your doctor can also prescribe and recommend vitamin D supplements.
Regular massage improves blood flow which provides the knee with more nutrients and also strengthens it. Use warm coconut, mustard or olive oil and rub your knees with firm, gentle circular movements for 10-15 minutes once or twice a day. You should consult an experienced massage therapist if you suffer from chronic knee pain.
- Fish oil
Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) which are found in fish oil are very beneficial for improving bone density and stronger knees. Fish oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, which means they reduce the inflammation that causes joint pain and stiffness.
- Healthy weight
It is very important to keep the pressure on the knees as low as possible because it causes them to work more thus get weaker. Being overweight is one of the causes of excess pressure on the knees and obese people usually are more likely to need a knee or hip replacement surgery. Losing that excess weight is essential for the knee strength and stability.
There are also other tips to avoid knee pain and weakness:
-Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes
-Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
-Avoid standing or sitting in one place for a long period of time
-Avoid eating too much salt since it causes calcium loss
-Avoid sudden movements such as twisting and jumping as well as activities that make the knee pain worse
-Practice yoga because it provides great relief from knee pain and stiffness
-Drink more fluids in order to soften the knee cartilage
-Cycling and walking are excellent activities that strengthen the knees.